Having read my colleague's previous post 'Why Me?', and how cutting back on consumerism may seem like giving up quality of life to some, what sprang to mind immediately was the notion that there is one demographic where it must be easier to demonstrate that 'less is more'....kids.
Research by experts, and experience by worn out parents is proving that it is VERY easy to have too many toys. Clutter of schedules and bedrooms can lead to insecure kids who are ungrateful for what they have, confused over their values and are in general too stressed out for their young ages.
As a parent, I struggle with the values of a pre-schooler who loves trinkets and knows that shops sell 'stuff' she wants. I prefer quality wooden toys to plastic. But there are tough challenges in this western society. Present-giving from others, birthday money for her to spend, party favours, the 'I did great at the dentist' type goodies, and little time as a working parent to seek affordable and ethical choices. All this has led to her bedroom containing more clutter and plastic than I would like.
I limit what I can and although there is more unnecessary plastic in the house than there need be, I think we're doing ok. I'd give us a B-. The bonus is that we are contributing less to the waste that will ultimately end up in landfill, and the finite resources that are being used to create these pieces of plastic and metal transient toys.
But B- is not enough. I periodically declutter. In doing so I am helping her health, but not the planet's. By then it is too late. The resources have been extracted, the manufacturing completed, the goods bought, the profits shared and the toy has been played with for a few minutes/hours/weeks. Even if it is passed on to someone else, the item will sooner or later end up in landfill. How will this benefit the future generations, who may need these resources for their basic or health needs?
So if you are a parent who understands these sentiments, I urge you to check out the Simplicty Parenting movement. By decluttering our kids' lives we can promote their health. But once that is done, let's take it to the next step and prevent these items coming into our kids' lives in the first place. Lead by example. It will be a double whammy - healthier kids and a healthier planet.
I don't want to recite the often-said tips about avoiding plastic packaging and battery operated toys as there are after all a plethora of web sites out there with that info. But there is one pet peeve of mine I would like to share - helium balloons. Until a few months ago, I had not thought twice about them. However I learned that helium is a non-renewable resource with limited global supplies and is used in crucial medical and scientific applications. I decided then and there to avoid buying them, and I urge you to do the same.
As a parent I know that reducing the insignificant toys that come into our kids' lives is tough. But we have to start somewhere. It might take time but we have to teach our kids the value of our non-renewable resources. We cannot let them grow up thinking that these supplies are endless. We have to teach them that less is more.
Image credit: Kannanshanmugam,shanmugamstudio,Kollam via Wikicommons
The views expressed by the author(s) of Rethink are not necessarily reflective of the organization and are provided as ideas for consideration in context of a changing world view.